The Islamic Republic of Iran is bordered by Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf of Oman, the Persian Gulf, Iraq and Turkey. The most powerful position in Iran is held by the spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but three other centers of power are determined by popular vote: The President, the Assembly of Experts and the Parliament. Legislative elections are held to elect members of the Islamic Consultative Assembly/ Parliament every four years.
Iran has a population of about 83 million people comprising numerous ethnic groups, the largest being Persians (61 per cent), Azeris (16 per cent), Kurds (10 per cent), and Lurs (6 per cent). Iran’s population has increased in the last 50 years with almost half of the population currently under 30 years of age, one-third of whom are between 15 and 29.
Government revenue is mainly from the country's oil and gas exports. Iran has the fifth-highest total estimated value of natural resources, about US$27.3 trillion including 10 per cent of the world's oil reserves and 15 per cent of natural gas reserves.
The recession in Iran accelerated in 2019/20 with GDP decreasing by 7.6 per cent due to a 37 per cent decrease in the oil sector. In 2018, oil production decreased reaching a record low of 2 mbpd in December 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted trade, tourism and retail business. In addition to the pandemic, low oil prices and sanctions, the country’s GDPs growth is expected to remain low between 2021 and 2022.
Risks, Hazards and Preparedness
Iran is at risk of drought, floods, earthquakes, locust infestations which result in loss of lives and livelihoods as well as disrupting the economy. Iran is one of the most seismically active countries with three active fault lines. Almost 77 per cent of urban centers are in high earthquake risk areas (magnitude of 6 - 8). Although historical data suggests that the frequency of major earthquakes is every 2-3 years, this rate has now become more frequent.
Water scarcity and severe droughts due to climate change pose serious threats, especially when combined with sandstorms in eastern parts of the country. More than one third (36 per cent) of the 877 urban centers in Iran are in flood prone areas. Locust infestation is also a major threat across southern Iran’s farmland. In 2020, desert locusts affected more than 54,600 hectares of land in eight provinces with damage of about 4.8 million tonnes of agricultural products
Preparedness and response to disasters is led by the National Disaster Management Organization (NDMO), Tehran Disaster Mitigation and Management Organization (TDMMO), Regular Army and IRGC through Passive Defense Organization – PDO and Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS). The country has an early warning system for hydrologic hazards and impacts on the population and economy. Iranian Meteorological Organization is responsible for providing early warning to the government agencies. However, NDMO at national and provincial levels is responsible for sharing this information and activating response tools.
Humanitarian Assistance and Response
In March 2019, heavy rain resulted in massive floods that affected more than 10 million people in 25 out of the 31 provinces, with an estimated 2 million in need of assistance. Upon the Government’s request, the UN extended its support to the most affected people.
The OCHA-managed Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) released USD $1.9 million for emergency response. The UN put together a Response Plan seeking $25 million covering emergency and early recovery needs for 115,000 highly vulnerable people and about $12.5 million was mobilized for the response. After the floods, for the first time in the country, a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) was conducted by the UN in July-August 2019, in close coordination with the government. The PDNA identified priority areas to support recovery including resilient housing and infrastructure, building resilience through effective Disaster Risk Management and development of a recovery plan led by PBO.